Project - My wife's new archtop, now back in one piece for good, I promise.
Following on from yesterday's project article, this evening has been spent putting my wife's new archtop back together after I promptly took it apart..sorry Emma. But I can proudly say it was worth it, as my jaw hit the floor upon the first few chords and notes. The combination of the Bliss humbuckers and fresh quality components has opened the T49D/v right up tonally, capturing the sound I imagined it should have been and certainly managing to amplify the natural qualities the guitar has.

Eastman T49D/v

No major changes aesthetically, the pickups are a similar raw nickel cover to the original Antiquities slightly aged look. But they match very nicely with the dull nickel tuners and tailpiece so overall staying true to originality. I did add a set of Kluson 90 degree pointers which nestle nicely under the 'speed' style control knobs, something about these suit Gibson style instruments very well, and set this off nicely I felt. 

Eastman T49D/v

I will be recording a demo video as soon as time allows of this, but for now hopefully I can describe the improvements sufficiently for you to digest. In the neck position, the overall sound is an awful lot more 'full' to my ears, the basses very rich and warm, typical of what to expect from a low output alnico II based pickup which to me stays respectful to the instruments acoustic quality. The trebles remain clear, and incredibly responsive now, which is personally where I felt the Antiquities fell short with lack of dynamic response. Picking position, finger, nail or pick all have their effect from bite to sweetness and this makes for an instantly involving playing experience.

Eastman T49d/v

Middle position brings in an almost Fender esq response I would say, with a single coil characteristic which I can imagine comes down to the low output pickups getting the most from the differences of string tension and position. Begin to adjust volume and tone pots between the two helps refine this further to either warm it up for the typical jazz box expectations to a touch more bite from the bridge. This position clearly lends itself better to chords, strumming and perhaps a slightly more defined fingerpicking style with the added treble response as opposed to the warmer neck only position.

Eastman T49D/v

Bridge position is far from overpowering, and certainly doesn't have you wincing from brightness even when flicking straight from that warm, rich neck position. The balance between the two is surprisingly well executed which helps prevent you from having to reach for the tone pot between changes. To me, the Bliss here is reminscent of hearing Scotty Moore solos on those early Elvis records. Lots of detail, clarity but not brash. Chords are seriously good fun here as the frequencies are so well handled, much like the neck position. I don't get a sense of a thin sound like I did personally with the Antiquities. I really don't want this to come across as slamming the SD originals, but for me this is much closer to achieving the sound I expect from the 175D inspired guitar. I am very happy with the results, as is Emma too.

Eastman T49D/v

You may recall from yesterday's post about me opting for flatwound strings, which Emma favours on her short scale bass mainly due to playing feel ultimately. I did drop a gauge to make things more comfortable for her over the original 12s supplied, and opted for Thomastik-Infeld's 'Jazz Swing JS111 11-47'. These for me personally feel a little lacking in tension, but for Emma are perfect, and dispite not quite being to my tastes in terms of tension do feel absolutely lovely and don't at all sound dull like you may expect from a set of flats. Acoustically the guitar has improved with them, night and day, over the original round wounds. I think these strings will be staying for quite some time!

Eastman T49D/v

Overall I'm truly astonished by this guitar. As I said in the previous article, it isn't of course an entry level price point, but it is also a far cry from the premium archtop world where wallets are heavily impacted too, and sits very proudly in the sub £2k crowd I say. The neck plays beautifully and I think the choice of medium jumbo frets is a winner. It feels incredibly easy to play, and fast which if you are a Jazz player will enjoy helping those quick chord changes or solo runs. But for players like myself, who simply enjoy making the most of our free time and playing whatever comes to our fingers first, this guitar makes it feel bloody lovely indeed and it was especially nice seeing Emma enjoying playing it after it's brief strip down and modification. The wooden, floating bridge is a personal favourite point for me. A few years back I was lucky enough to own a '47 ES-300N, which had had the wooden bridge changed to a tune-o-matic and I felt it changed the response and tonality of the guitar negatively. So to have an archtop at home with the bridge I wished my ES-300N had, reassures me of why I felt something wasn't quite right tonally with that guitar, because this Eastman is THE sound a guitar of this style should make. Really looking forward to seeing and hearing Emma learn more on this guitar, and I have a feeling the inspiration to do so will continue due to what a great guitar this is. 

Eastman T49D/v

Eastman T49D/v

Eastman T49D/v

Eastman T49D/v

Eastman T49D/v

Comments

Peter Vogel

Peter Vogel said:

What a beauty, James! Congratulations and no, you’re not the only one and definitely not crazy to go straight to work on a lovely new instrument. It is an illness a lot of us have. Bringing the acoustic qualities of an instrument to the forefront is always a joy and to transfer this true character into the electric realm is what any guitar deserves. If your wife loves her new guitar even more now and it boosts her learning experience everything you did is well judged. Maybe it even helps to sell more of those bliss humbuckers. Have fun!

James Gascoigne

James Gascoigne said:

Hey Peter! Thanks for taking the time to read the post, and for the kind words! That’s put a really nice perspective on it, thank you for the input buddy :) She’s over the moon with the guitar, and I’m enjoying the time spent hearing her learn more and any chance I get to play it too so smiles all-round!

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